Think back to the days before grabbing your smartphone in bed and before scrolling through Flipboard while preparing your coffee and breakfast. Think of the days where you had to hit the newsstand for your fix of the latest headlines. What made you pick up USA Today instead of the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal instead of The New York Times?
Maybe you chose one over the other out of habit, maybe out of brand loyalty-or maybe you chose a newspaper because you couldn’t tear your eyes from the startling headline and striking photograph. Maybe you were pulled in by the components “above the fold.”
In journalism, above the fold refers to the upper half of the front page of a newspaper. Because newspapers are often folded when displayed on newsstands, editors traditionally place top stories above the fold to entice readers to buy their papers.
Now fast-forward to the digital age. Placing important and eye-catching items above the fold is still a popular technique for the web, especially in email marketing. In email, above the fold is anything that appears on a device without scrolling. And because the items above the fold are the first things subscribers see when they open your messages, it’s vital to show the most important items.
What are the most important items to include above the fold in email? See them below!
- Call to Action: The goal of email marketing messages is to get subscribers to click-why would you put the call to action anywhere but above the fold? Whether you want readers to download an eBook, make a purchase or sign up for premium content, get to the point, fast!
- Images (with strong Alt text): “Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists and educators conclude the Internet is an environment that promotes perfunctory reading and distracted thinking,” says Eric Kokonas on PR Daily. Utilizing powerful images in emails can grab readers’ attention and encourage them to keep scrolling without even thinking. Just remember to pair the image with a strong headline and dynamite alt text for subscribers who won’t be seeing your images by default.
- Logo: Another important image to have above the fold in your email is your logo. Some email marketing experts, like Monica Sims, argue the logo is so important, it outranks the From Line: “Humans are visual creates, and they may not read your ‘From’ field,” says Monica Sims on Email Critic. “When they open your email, make it easy for them to immediately recognize who is sending this communication. Show them – put your logo up at the top.”
- Links: The space above the fold lends itself well to links to your website, a web version of the email, social media sites, or even a link to unsubscribe. If you don’t like the look of all the links, Sims advises embedding a link to your website within your logo. Or you can run various A/B tests to determine which links are more effective above the fold and which should remain at the bottom of the email.
- Personalized Call Out: If you’ve acquired subscriber contact information from enhancing your email database, put the information into action with a personalized call out above the fold. “Include first name or the user’s ID above the fold within the body of the email so you quickly capture their attention,” advises Kevin Gao on Target Marketing. “It the user took the time to register with your businesses, then there is some implicit trust between both of you. Remind them of your relationship by promptly showing their names.” If you’ve got it, flaunt it, right?
A Word About Mobile Email Marketing
While email marketers should strive to include some or all of the abovementioned items above the fold, it’s important to note that what works well on a desktop does not always lend itself well to a tablet or mobile screen. If you aren’t using mobile aware or responsive design in your email marketing campaigns, it’s important to optimize the space above the fold for the growing percentage of subscribers opening email on mobile devices.
“When opening an email on a mobile device, the preheader should provide a clear, targeted message that invites the reader to view the full message,” says ExactTarget. “Avoid showing common language first, moving ‘View email with images,’ ‘Add to address book’ or ‘Click to unsubscribe’ messages to either the footer or a secondary position in the preheader.” See the blog “4 Tips for Better Mobile Email Marketing Design” for even more tips!
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Photo Credit: The Hamster Factor